Press Release 01-13-2021

EEOC General Counsel Issues Report on Dialogue Sessions on Religious Discrimination With Agency Stakeholders

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) General Counsel Sharon Fast Gustafson and Commissioner Andrea Lucas today issued a report on a series of dialogue sessions on religious discrimination held in November and December 2020. During these sessions, stakeholders were invited to share how the EEOC can improve its development and litigation of religious discrimination claims.

The meetings were conducted by General Counsel Gustafson’s Religious Discrimination Work Group, chaired by Assistant General Counsel Christine Lambrou Johnson. Religious leaders, advocacy groups, and nonprofits participated in four sessions of tele-meetings. Participants heard from the General Counsel and Commissioner Lucas and were invited to offer insights into EEOC efforts to prevent and remedy religious discrimination.

The Listening Session Report includes comments from participants on issues ranging from religious garb and Sabbath observance to retaliation and hostile work environment. A majority of participants expressed a desire to learn more about the law on religious discrimination and how to educate both employers and employees on how to follow it.

The General Counsel’s Listening Sessions coincided with the Commission’s posting for public comment of its updated Compliance Manual Section on Religious Discrimination . Although no comments on the guidance were solicited or received from Listening Session participants, the General Counsel encouraged participants to give their input during the public comment period, along with all other interested stakeholders.

“We thank those who participated representing a rich diversity of religions—Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, and Sikh to name a few,” said General Counsel Gustafson. “Participants candidly shared their experiences with religious discrimination in the workplace. We are motivated by their experiences to redouble our efforts to prevent and remedy religious discrimination in the workplace.”

Established in May 2020, the Work Group is comprised of EEOC attorneys, deputy direc­tor, investigators, data analysts, and training and outreach liaisons from various EEOC offices across the country. The Office of General Counsel is made up of 15 regional offices as well as several field offices and local offices across the nation. The General Counsel oversees and conducts the EEOC’s litigation. Her office works with the investigatory and enforcement side of the EEOC to develop cases and promote conciliation and settlement.

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employ­ment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov.  Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.